Thirty-eight sanctuary humans representing twenty-two farm animal sanctuaries gathered at the 2017 Animal Rights National Conference to meet in person this past weekend. We also began a conversation about working more closely together as a united sanctuary movement which made my heart burst with joy. Many of these humans I have had the joy of visiting, meeting the individuals for whom they care, and creating portraits of the rescued individuals who reside at the sanctuary. Others I met for the first time, and new travel plans and destinations and connections were formed. To the best of my knowledge, no such gathering has ever happened at the AR Conference, and that so many were able to participate was a monumental achievement. The momentum we began at this simple gathering was couched in love for the sanctuary movement of which we are all a part, and I look forward to that energy continuing to build, grow, expand, and thrive.
Sanctuary Groupie: Yoga Animalia Project Blog
Oh, the Places You'll Go! Wisdom from Dr. Seuss that I recall as July finds me writing to you from San Francisco. Back in the middle of May I traveled south from my winter abode in Pennsylvania to Full Circle Farm Sanctuary near Atlanta, experiencing the beautiful new property to which they moved. Driving through southern parts new to my eyes, I trekked west in time for the New Orleans VegFest to bring some sanctuary love to NOLA, a city of many people who needs must travel 6-8 hours to find the nearest farm animal sanctuary. Then it was south of Houston to Rowdy Girl Sanctuary located in Angleton, Texas. My Prius got some long overdue doctoring before I headed northwest to Santuario de Karuna in Tijeras, New Mexico, very near Albuquerque. Afterward I trekked in to my home state to celebrate at Oakland VegFest.
June passed in a beautiful SoCal fog of newborn human baby time as I stayed in Ventura, California and helped my best friend as she birthed my newest niece. The festival season is just ramping up though, so back on the road I go!
I will be wrapping up my Northern California travels with a stop to visit Sweet Farm in Half Moon Bay this Friday. NorCal has seen a sprouting of new sanctuaries, and earlier this week I visited Goatlandia Farm Animal Sanctuary in Santa Rosa, Flip Side Sanctuary in Sebastopol, and Rancho Compasión in Nicasio, all very near San Francisco. I hope you enjoy the first photos of these visits in this blog post!
Thank you for your continued support, and if a sanctuary resident's portrait can fit in your life or the life of someone you love, visit my Etsy page or send me an email at Cameron@YogaAnimalia.com. May so much joy find you!
Yoga Animalia: Caprine - Nemo
Uplands PEAK Sanctuary, Salem, Indiana www.UplandsPEAKSanctuary.org
Compassion saved Nemo’s life. Found at a goat meat farm lying in her own urine and feces, immobile and freezing, likely mere hours from death, Nemo’s rescuer secured her release from the farmer who had left her diarrhea untreated for a month. Likely intended for use as a breeding goat whose babies would be taken year after year, Nemo instead came to be lovingly cared for by a family that warmed her, fed her and gave her fluids until she could eat and drink on her own, who massaged her weak legs and helped her learn to stand again, and then celebrated with her when after six weeks Nemo finally walked. This family’s dedication also then secured a permanent home at Uplands PEAK for Nemo, where she settled in first with rescued calf Vegan, and then the goat herd as her strength grew. Now this affable lady shows no sign of her near-death experience as she gambols about the sanctuary, happy and loved.
You can read Nemo's full story on Uplands PEAK's page here, including the heart-filling details of her first loving human family who saved her life.
When I met Nemo, she was still living with Vegan calf, munching grass and twigs while he grazed nearby. Her affability with me, and her verve and pep, defies her origins, and this spirited lady has all the signs of growing into a fierce and dynamic individual.
There are some beings that we bond with effortlessly, two souls recognizing one another and lighting up at the contact. Selick was one of those souls at Indraloka Animal Sanctuary that lit me up. Trying to outsmart (and always failing) his explorations and quest for food not his own, sneaking hoof trims and giggling when successful and he yelled at me for the intrusion, helping him shed winter hairs and blackheads like I was searching for gold, enjoying his slow descent to the earth for a belly rub and then the sounds of joy he proffered when the belly rub was especially good - these are moments of light that are now dear memories.
The heart attack that took Selick's physical form cannot take these memories, but it did take that brother light. The grief will continue to hurt my heart and wet my eyes, but Selick's zest for life inspires me and all those who knew him. When the heaviness of his absence hits me, I am striving to remember that I am now one of the people whose light needs to shine in memory of this special boy. As I do with so many other lights whose radiance strengthens my own, I will continue to share Selick's story, his love, and his light.
Read on the Indraloka blog the story of how Selick came to sanctuary: the challenges he faced and his personal growth.
On this overcast and warmer than frozen day, this day that solely caused 46 million beautiful individuals to be slaughtered for their flesh, this day where I headed into the upper barn to retrieve some meds before the sanctuary residents began their morning greetings, this Thanksgiving Day I began with sorrow.
This sorrow was not from dwelling on the 46 million individuals who lost their lives - I have built healthy and loving new traditions with family and friends that help create joy and celebration on what is otherwise a very dark holiday - it was instead from an unexpected discovery I made early this morning. There is a sense that caregivers develop; a sense of homeostasis disturbed, of energy flows disrupted, of something not-quite-right. That sense drove my attention to where Jake turkey was, or should have been, except Jake wasn't there, it was just his corporeal remains.
I am not ashamed to say I lost it. The grief hit my entire body and I sobbed. It is Thanksgiving day, ThanksLiving as I now think of it. The turkeys I know personally are supposed to eat pumpkin and explore and thrive. We had already had to say goodbye to two brand new turkey friends to whom we could only give a short amount of time due to their insurmountable genetic and physical problems, and I just could not bear saying goodbye to Jake also. But that is part of sanctuary work; we say goodbye when we think it is the last thing our hearts can handle, and I feel fortunate to know humans whose hearts hurt as much as mine, but who do the work and translate that sorrow into a beautiful part of life.
Jake was 13 years old; he lived a glorious and long life, and today was his day. The beauty of a free and beloved turkey's spirit departing on Thanksgiving Day was eloquently stated by sanctuary founder Indra Lahiri, Jake's longest human friend who had originally saved he and his siblings from slaughter prior to Thanksgiving in 2003.
Indra's thoughtful and authentic response, even amidst her own grief to Jake's passing, had the intense effect of transforming my emotional space. It didn't hurt less, but rather it shifted my energy from tragic to something calmer. It opened up my ability to hold space for Jake's transition, and though my Thanksgiving began with sorrow, it ends with peace.